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Cool asphalt could cut carbon emissions by 39%

THE UK is set to significantly reduce the carbon emissions of road works and cut traffic delays following last week’s announcement by the Carbon Trust of pilot projects to develop the market for low-temperature asphalt.

Companies including Tarmac Ltd, United Asphalt and Aggregate Industries have partnered with the Carbon Trust to invest in projects that could cut energy bills and wipe a combined 339,000 tonnes of carbon off the asphalt industry’s annual footprint by 2020, equivalent to 39% of current emissions.

‘There are huge carbon savings to be gained from using cooler asphalt. We are partnering with the leaders in the UK industry to prove the benefits, so that more cooler asphalt will hit our roads soon,’ said Dr Mark Williamson, director of innovations at the Carbon Trust.

‘The Carbon Trust has already launched a carbon-reduction strategy to help the aggregates industry reduce its carbon footprint by 20% and shave some £45 million a year off its energy bills. We are now targeting the next level of carbon savings by demonstrating innovative technologies and solutions that could cut carbon across the industry and help cut the UK’s carbon footprint.’

The Carbon Trust is providing funding for the projects through its £15 million Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA). Following a call for proposals in September last year, the Trust has so far selected three consortia to take forward projects, each of which will take around two years to complete.

Tarmac Ltd, Nynas, Atkins and MIRO will demonstrate semi-warm and cold-mix asphalt with the aim of securing approval from highways operators at a local and national level for colder types of road surface; this approval is needed for wider industry uptake (see separate item elsewhere in this week’s Bulletin). The technology could save 118,000 tonnes of carbon per year across the industry by 2020. The Carbon Trust is contributing £275,000 of funding for the project with the consortium providing £410,000.

In the second of the projects, United Asphalt, Shell Bitumen and Berkshire Engineering will seek to maximize the amount of reclaimed asphalt which can be used in road resurfacing by combining warm-mix asphalt and an innovative new aggregate dryer. West Berkshire Council will seek to utilize this material within the district of West Berkshire as soon it becomes available. The technologies could reduce an asphalt plant’s carbon emissions by up to 22% and by 2020 could be saving over 188,000 tonnes of carbon across the industry each year. The Carbon Trust is contributing £237,000 of funding with the project team providing £358,000.

Meanwhile, Aggregate Industries are to install an innovative heat recovery system at their Haughmond Hill site in Shrewsbury. Developed by Econotherm, it will cut energy use by using waste heat to pre-heat the air combusted in the asphalt burner. Trials will tackle issues including moisture and dust in the recovered hot air. By 2020 the technology could be saving 33,000 tonnes of carbon a year. The Carbon Trust is contributing £195,000 of funding with the project team providing £219,000.

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